Schenectady

New craft beverage producers can get fast-track permit

State Sen. Michelle Hinchey, D-Saugerties, speaks at Mixed Breed Brewing in Guilderland on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021.
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State Sen. Michelle Hinchey, D-Saugerties, speaks at Mixed Breed Brewing in Guilderland on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021.

ALBANY — Budding craft beverage producers now have a way around the long wait for their state production licenses.

State officials announced that applications are available for interim permits that will allow them to start production even as they await approval of their liquor license.

The permit application is expected to take less than 30 days to process, Gov. Kathy Hochul said in a news release Monday, while the full license takes an average of six months.

A measure allowing this bypass to take place was approved by the Assembly and Senate in 2021. Gov. Kathy Hochul signed it into law Dec. 21.

Craft-beverage manufacturers say the months-long delay is a problem for them because capital expenses such as equipment and recurring costs such as rent continue to accrue while no revenue is coming in.

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As of Monday, there were 82 permit requests pending statewide.

State Sen. Michelle Hinchey, D-Saugerties, sponsored the measure in the state Senate. She said in the news release that the permits are a step forward for those who would open new breweries, wineries, distilleries, cideries and meaderies.

“As a strong tourism driver and local job creator, New York’s burgeoning craft beverage industry represents an exciting growth sector for upstate economies,” said Hinchey, chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee.

The temporary permits cost $125 and are valid for six months. They can be renewed for three months for an additional $50 fee.

Hochul called it a commonsense measure to cut red tape and ease regulations to boost businesses.

“New York’s craft beverage industry is not only a source of local pride, but also creates jobs and drives tourism in every corner of the state,” she said.

In 2021, the number of active craft beverage production licenses increased 9% to 1,559.

This included 78 hard cider producers, the most in the nation; 504 craft brewers and 205 craft distillers, both the second-highest numbers in the nation; and 494 wineries, the fourth-highest.

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